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Full text of "NightRider"

33

not like anybody else in the world. He realized the fact
more profoundly than he had ever realized it about his
friends or even his wife; and he saw as clearly as in a vision
that man sitting with other men before a small blaze of
sticks on which something was cooking, in the dark in the
open field, just as Captain Todd had said the people had
camped the night before.

"My friends," he said again hesitatingly, "I know that
many of you have come a long way. You left your houses
and your families and came here, some of you from a long
way off, from other counties. Some of you stayed out in the
fields last night because the town was full or because you
did not have any money. In my mind I can see you there.
You came here through the dust and heat"—and he felt his
own voice growing stronger within him and the words com-
ing—"because you thought you could get something here
to help you." He came from behind the table and went to
the edge of the platform, what seemed the tremendous empti-
ness of the crowd, like the emptiness of the sky when one
fixes his steady gaze upon its depth, drawing him as though
against his will. "But there is nothing here to help you.
You came here to find hope. But there is no hope here for
you. There is nothing here in Bardsville for you. There is
no hope in the Association for you."

He heard the shuffling of feet on the boards behind him,
and a short, nervous cough. "There is nothing here," he
went on, "except what you have brought with you from
your homes, wherever they are. There is no hope except
the hope you bring here. There is nothing here but an idea.
And that idea is dead unless you have brought it life by your
long trip here. It does not exist unless you give it life by
your own hope and loyalty."

He could not tell whether they were listening to him, and
found that he did not care, for his own voice filled him and
he was completely himself. ". . . your own hope and loyalty.
That idea will not give you quick comfort Before it gives
you comfort it will give you suffering and privation. And it

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